Fallout from the Yule Ball and learning a few dirty little secrets.
The first article was about “Dumbledore’s Big Mistake”1. It painted Dumbledore in an unfavorable light and Harry was pleased to see the headmaster having to deal with some bad press and its encompassing issues. What upset Harry slightly was that the article also hurt Hagrid.
Harry’s feelings towards Hagrid had cooled over the last half a year as he discovered more about his godfather, Sirius, better. He knew that Hagrid had been the one to deliver him to the Dursleys that fateful night on Dumbledore’s orders.
What he found out last year, and later confirmed by Sirius, was that Hagrid had prevented Sirius from taking him that night even though he knew that Sirius was his godfather, and legal guardian.
That made Hagrid, a child in a giant’s body, a kidnapper on Dumbledore’s orders. Hagrid realized none of that; the greatness of Albus Dumbledore blinded him from the truth. Harry knew that as the Head of the Wizengamot, Dumbledore could have arranged for the reversal of Hagrids’ expulsion and gotten him the right to carry a wand again. The information about his involvement with Harry’s placement would have severe repercussions if it became public, hence, no trial.
Sirius’s situation was definitely unique. Harry did not know why the headmaster hadn’t arranged for a trial with the evidence that Pettigrew was alive. Remus had explained that Veritaserum would force anyone to tell the truth. The puzzling thing was why Dumbledore did not arrange for a trial.
Sirius had taken the time to explain the events surrounding that fateful night in October. Harry understood that Sirius didn’t abandon him but that he wasn’t thinking clearly in his grief and anger and it had cost both of them everything.
Harry took this lesson to heart and he tried his best to remain level headed no matter how angry or sad he was. That was why he was still upset at his loss of control in the Great Hall over Rita’s last article.
His good mood over the article about Dumbledore evaporated quickly when he saw the second headline, and accompanying photo, in the Daily Prophet. ‘Potters Pureblood Princess,’ took up the entire upper bottom third of the front page. The photo showed him and Ginny hugging before they walked away smiling and holding hands.
The article went on at length about how Harry had finally broken free from his love potions induced stupor and had found true love in the arms of Ginny Weasley. Rita vilified Hermione, again. The decisive factor for Harry was when Rita called for an investigation of Hermione for the obvious use of an illegal love potion on the Boy-Who-Lived.
Harry was desperately trying to reign in his temper. The dishes around him had begun to rattle ominously. After a few deep breaths, he was starting to calm down and the dishes stopped rattling.
Unfortunately, just as Harry regained control of his temper two things happened that set him off all over again.
Draco Malfoy had sauntered over towards Harry with the Daily Prophet clutched in his hands and a sneer on his face.
“Finally saw the light, eh, Potter?” Malfoy drawled. “Ditched the Mudblood and found yourself a proper pure blood, even if she is from a family of blood traitors.” Draco said with a sneer while pointing at Ginny, who was sitting across from Harry at the Gryffindor table.
Trying very hard to maintain control of his temper, Harry hissed, “I am not dating Ginny Weasley. I am in love with Hermione. Now leave you pathetic inbred fool before I do something that you will regret.”
The dishes had started to rattle again, and a few even cracked, as Harry’s anger rose. Magic was beginning to pour off Harry in small pulses he was so mad.
Draco could feel the power coming off Harry, as could anyone within twenty feet of him. He knew that it would only take one more little push for something bad to happen. Deciding that he did not want to be on the receiving end of Potter’s outburst he began to back away slowly and silently.
He had gone about four feet when salvation arrived in the most unlikely form. Seizing his chance, Draco began backing away a little faster.
The Weasley temper had boiled over again, saving Draco from embarrassment in front of the whole school.
A hand gripped Harry’s upper arm and spun him around violently. The shock of being grabbed momentarily quenched Harry’s anger.
“What’s the matter now Potter? Is my sister not good enough for the Boy-Who-Lived? She’s much better than a nagging, know-it-all, bookworm.” Ron said heatedly.
Quickly realizing that things were getting out of hand fast, Draco and a bunch of other students were backing further away from a shocked and angry Harry Potter.
There was a shout followed by the oddest squelching noise that caused a few people in the Great Hall to jump and then laugh when they saw the results of the spell.
Ron Weasley was lying on his back, slapping at the disgusting bat bogeys hitting his face. Ginny Weasley was standing with her wand still pointed at her brother as he writhed around on the floor trying to escape the attacking bogeys.
Draco saw the look on Ginny’s face as she hexed her brother. By the time Weasley hit the floor, Draco was a good twenty feet away from the Gryffindor table. His self-preservation instincts kept him quiet as he continued to back away from the scene in front of him.
“Thanks Ginny. You have got to teach me that spell.” Harry said with a light chuckle as he stepped back from the bogies attacking Ron. Amidst the chaos, his anger disappeared.
“You’re welcome.” Ginny said before she turned her attention back to her pillock of a brother. “Ron, if you had tried to get a date and actually show up for the ball, you would know that I went with Neville, whom I like a lot.”
Neville was grinning like a Cheshire cat and trying to match the color of Ginny’s hair with his blush. “Thanks, I like you too Ginny.”
They linked hands and left the Great hall together, both still blushing from their confessions in front of everyone.
Harry knelt down next to Ron and whispered, “You just don’t learn do you?” He stood back up, pointed his wand at Ron, and said “Stupefy.”
Harry glanced around after watching Ron slip into unconsciousness. ‘Why hadn’t a teacher stepped in?’ When he looked up at the staff table, he only saw the headmaster sitting there, watching him, but making no move to intervene. He could not figure out why Dumbledore didn’t interfere before everything got out of hand.
Deciding that he didn’t really care, Harry pointed his wand at Ron and said “Mobilicorpus.”
As Ron rose into the air Harry began directing him towards the exit. Just as he reached the stairs to the second floor, Professor McGonagall and Hermione came out of the transfiguration classroom.
“What are you doing with Mr. Weasley, Mr. Potter?”
“Hello Professor; hello Hermione. Ron got hexed in the Great Hall and I’m taking him to the Hospital Wing.” he indicated to the bat bogeys still attacking Ron’s face.
He could have sworn that he saw a smile on his professor’s face but it was gone in a flash.
“And why is he unconscious?” McGonagall asked.
“Well,” Harry hesitated but one quick look at his head of house’s face made him quickly continue “I kind of stunned him.” he mumbled.
“What was that Mr. Potter?”
Taking a deep breath, Harry said in a clear voice, “I stunned him because I didn’t know the counter jinx. He was slapping at his face and moaning like a baby so I did the first thing that came to my mind.”
The professor gazed at the disgusting bogies still flapping around on Mr. Weasley’s face was a bit nauseating, so Minerva dispelled them with a quick flick of her wrist. “Very well, take him up to the Hospital Wing then. Who was the teacher on duty in the Great Hall this morning Mr. Potter?”
“Professor Dumbledore was ma’am.”
“Hmm.” Minerva said through pursed lips. “Thank you Mr. Potter. You two are free to enjoy your morning once you drop Mr. Weasley off at the hospital wing.”
“Thank you, professor.” The two teens chorused together as Harry levitated Ron up the steps towards the hospital wing.
“What happened in the Great Hall Harry?” Hermione asked.
Harry was about to answer her when he noticed a portrait moving from frame to frame, following them. “Ron got hexed so I stunned him to stop the screaming.” He answered while watching as the portrait continued to flit from frame to frame, as they got closer to the hospital wing.
When Harry had floated Ron to the nearest bed, the portrait had settled into the frame near the matron’s office.
Hermione gave Harry a searching gaze before dashing off to fetch Madam Poppy Pomfrey.
The hospital matron bustled over and asked, “What happened to Mr. Weasley?”
Harry’s gaze shifted sideways for a moment so he could see the portrait in the frame. It was listening in on their conversation intently. “I stunned him because he was screaming and slapping at his face from the hex that hit him. Professor McGonagall dispelled the hex but told me to bring him up here just to be safe.”
Madam Poppy Pomfrey swept her wand along Ron’s unconscious body. A quick healing spell on his nose later she was satisfied with her patient’s condition. As she put her wand away, she said, “He’ll be fine and should wake up in a few hours. Run along and have a nice day.”
The two teens left the hospital wing hand in hand. The only place he could think of that did not have any portraits was their spot by the lake.
Hermione realized that something was bothering Harry but he seemed reluctant to talk about it while inside for some reason. Figuring that he would answer her questions once they were outside of the castle, she settled into a comfortable silence.
She had felt Harry’s anger through the bond when she was talking with professor McGonagall. His anger had spiked a couple of times in the span of a few minutes before it vanished abruptly; in its place was a feeling of mirth.
They had reached their spot down by the lake and Harry pulled Hermione down onto the bench next to him. He gazed into her eyes for a moment before speaking quietly “We were being followed through the halls by a portrait.”
Hermione instantly knew who had ordered the portraits to follow Harry. The question was ‘Why?’
Life was slowly returning to normal in the castle following the winter holidays. Well, as close to normal as you could get for Harry.
Since the end of the first task, Harry had discovered that he no longer needed to vocalize his spells in class. He had to remember to say the spells aloud to keep this new talent secret.
Harry had told Hermione about the change, she had urged him to keep that skill hidden, and he agreed. Her reasoning was sound, as it would give him an advantage for a few precious seconds if something happened. So every day during his practice in the Room of Requirement, Harry would devote an hour solely on silent casting.
He noticed that his wand movements were decreasing. He no longer needed the lengthy flicks, swishes, and loops to get his spells to perform. The only people he could compare his new casting style to were the Headmaster and Professors Flitwick and McGonagall. Harry spent a good portion of his class time watching the adults in the castle to see how they performed magic. Some of the seventh year students were also capable of complete silent casting all of the time, but not everyone seemed to have the ability to master the skill.
Hermione had questioned him for hours over how he cast his spells silently and verbally. She was now able to cast most of the first year spells silently. Additionally, she was intently working on mastering the second year ones too.
Another side effect of the first task was that Harry now felt more in touch with his magic and the magic around him. It took him a few days to get the second skill under better control. There was so much magic in Hogwarts that it was difficult to sort everything out at first.
As Harry’s control over sensing magic increased, he discovered a few other benefits of the skill. The first thing that Harry figured out was how to sense the magic on objects. He could tell if there were charms, wards, hexes, and curses on objects. He had found a tracking spell on his glasses that he quickly removed. He found one after searching his person for an hour that angered him.
There were also a couple of other spells that were on him that he was going to have to research what they were. He planned to ask Hermione and Remus to assist him in identifying them. One of the spells he found on himself was very dark in nature and it was worrying him more than he wanted to admit.
After Hermione explained the theory behind the tracking spell, it took Harry three days to figure out how to undo the spell. He used his own magic to break down the tracking spell and remove it.
His jubilation at removing the tracking charm was short lived though. The dark curse that attached to him did not respond to the same method. Harry had pulled some of the dark tendrils free but as he tried to remove the remainder of the curse, he felt a tugging sensation from the area around his scar before it snapped back into place on his forehead.
“Damn it!” Harry exclaimed while rubbing the scar on his forehead.
Hermione looked up at Harry’s shout to see him pressing his palm to the scar on his forehead. “What’s wrong?”
“Whenever I get close to removing whatever this dark curse is on my forehead it feels like it just snaps back into place.” Harry barked out in frustration.
“Hey, it’s okay. We will figure this out together. I’ll ask Remus to send us a book on curse scars.” She said while rubbing his back. “What does it look like when you are visualizing the connection?”
Harry looked at her in surprise. “You know, I don’t know. I am not visualizing anything. It’s more like sensing its connection to Me.” he paused in thought, trying to recall the sensations from trying to remove the connection to his scar. “It feels…really evil.” his voice just a whisper as if to ward off the feeling.
“Do you think that your scar is somehow related to the vision that you had the day of the World Cup?”
Somehow, his scar and that vision were connected, they concluded. They just didn’t know why, or how, the correlation existed.
“Yes, I still think that’s the best explanation that either of us has come up with so far.” Harry replied glumly. “You know, when Hagrid first took me to Diagon Alley he told me that this was no ordinary curse scar. I wonder what he meant by that?”
“I don’t know Harry. We should talk to Remus and Sirius about that later. Why don’t you take a break for a bit and tell me about the other spell that you found on yourself.” Hermione said.
Harry’s visage darkened at the mention of the second spell and he stood up to pace around a bit. “It’s a form of a monitoring charm.” he said darkly.
“What? Who would do something like that to you?” Hermione asked. She was outraged that something so invasive, and without his consent, was being put upon him. His emotions were easy to pick up through their bond. He was angry but resigned.
Then she realized why and one word confirmed her fears. “Dumbledore.” It was a statement, not a question.
Harry flopped back down onto the couch next to Hermione and sighed deeply. “Yes, it was him. I have been watching him enough to get a feel for his magic, he is the only one capable enough to cast that spell, and that has had access to me. My guess is that it was placed upon me while I was in the hospital wing or when he delivered me to the Dursleys.”
Left unsaid was that it was probably put upon Harry before he was placed with the Dursleys thirteen years ago. That made Dumbledore’s lack of supervision even worse, because that spell told him everything about Harry’s condition.
“Aren’t you going to remove the spell?” Hermione asked in concern.
Harry rubbed his hands down his face in frustration. “I’m not sure if I should. It’s been damaged somehow but if I remove it he is going to know right away and that could pose all sorts of problems.” he said remorsefully.
“Why don’t you remove it this summer? That way he can’t confront you immediately and we will have time to come up with a cover story if he does ask.” Hermione said hopefully while gazing into Harry’s bright emerald eyes.
“That could work. We’ll ask Moony and Sirius before we do anything though.” Harry said.
Glancing down at his watch, he realized that it was almost curfew. “Come on. Let’s get back to Gryffindor Tower before we get detention.” Harry said as he pulled Hermione up from the couch.
“You’re right. We have double potions first thing tomorrow morning and we need to be at our best for that class.” Hermione said as she re-shrunk the trunk and put it back into her pocket.
Harry had out his invisibility cloak and the Marauder’s Map for their trip back to the tower. With a flick of his wrists, he draped the cloak over them and stepped out into the empty hallway.
1. Goble of Fire, JKR. Paraphrased from the original title, Dumbledore’s Giant Mistake.